Interview with AXIZ
Rock band AXIZ told us about their origins, goals, group dynamics and more.
Hi readers, we are AXIZ, a mixed rock quintet from Korea. Our first EP Hug me, which includes four tracks, has been just released (in Korea Nov. 30). We want to say we are a “real” rock band, pretty much doing everything from song writing to performing on our own as a band. To introduce our members, Jun-Hyung is the vocalist, Ji-Wan and Mi-Yeon play guitar, Ha-Jin plays the bass and Seung-Bae is the drummer. We are all friends of the same age, born in 1993.
How and why did you choose your name, AXIZ? Is there a special meaning?
We brought the English term ‘AXIS’ and replaced S with Z in the end to show our ambition to be “a central axis in music.” We have just taken the very first step, but will push ourselves hard and stay on this road for 20 years or even 40 years. We wish to be a real central axis in the music business someday.
How would you describe your music?
We want AXIZ’ music to be basically a hard rock sound with a powerful beat, full of energy and passion. At the same time we do mix up a lot of different styles from punk and heavy metal to pop and ballads.
What are your favorite bands, your role models?
The biggest musical influences on us as far as musicians are concerned, there’s so many of them: The Beatles, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Guns & Roses and Arctic Monkeys. We think we learn a lot from their music but rather than sticking to a specific role model, we just want to try our best to be the best rock band we can.
Your first EP has just been released. Can you tell us more about it? What's your favorite track?
I can’t pick just one track because I love them all. The title track Hug Me, the original version written by Jun-Hyung and guitarist Ji-Wan in acoustic arrangement for a duo, has been transformed into a beautifully arranged band version. Lyrically this song speaks so much to what’s going on in people’s hearts. We all seem to be happy and get along with others, but in the end we tend to feel lonely and wish somebody would give us a warm hand and sharing heart. So we want this song to make people think of others around - whether it is a friend, lover, family or beloved - and share their love with them. In the end everyone feels that they are not alone.
Circus, an up-tempo rock & roll tune, is like we are watching the circus and is full of enthusiasm.
Why Don’t You Give It Up is a song from our early days and we won loads of prizes at contests with it, even before the debut. It offers the message “Don’t ever try to fit yourself to other people’s standards, just walk in the world with dignity and distinct individuality” in a very cheerful upbeat sound.
Lastly Mr. Zero, a powerful hard rock tune, is about drummer Seung-Bae. It was inspired by his story of getting a zero on his math exam. Something that matters to ordinary people could be meaningless to someone else, right? So the message behind this song is to live with confidence no matter what happens. At the end of the day, living your life with confidence is important.
Can you tell us more about the members?
Ji-Wan: Um... I am the leader of AXIZ and take the leading role in deciding the way we approach music. But I am very poor at schedule checking and I'm often late (laughs). So, Mi-Yeon is fully backing me up with those issues. Jun-Hyung is a born to be rock front man, I suppose. He is a man of many talents. Seung-Bae plays games and sports quite well. Ha-Jin is the quietest one at first, but once you get to know him better you will find him the funniest one among us.
Jun-Hyung: Ji-Wan and I write most songs and Mi-Yeon writes the lyrics. The arrangement is done mainly by Ji-Wan and partly by me or Ha-Jin. Seung-Bae was not sure how to make the rhythm with the drum properly, so he had been ill-treated a lot by us. But look at him now; he is the best drummer and doing his best. He is the cutest guy in AXIZ by the way.
Mi-Yeon: People would think being the only female member in a band, I would be well treated by the guys. Actually no. They treat me like I'm a male member. It’s all good because I am ok with that. We’ve just known each other for so long now, and nearly five years being in a band seeing each other, I sometimes get bored (laughs).
Seung-Bae: Not much to say.
How/when did you meet each other?
Ji-Wan: Jun-Hyung and I have known each other since elementary school. When I was in my fifth year of elementary school I stayed in the states for a while, then I got hooked on Jimi Hendrix music. After that I tempted Jun-Hyung to form a band together. We were so miserable during that time. In the middle school era I was introduced to Seung-Bae and we participated in a contest once. Of course we didn’t make it after having played a four minute-long track in just two minutes. Somebody told us about Ha-Jin and Mi-Yeon. After that we tried to persuade them to join our band until they finally joined us after a month. That was in our third year of middle school. That’s the story (laughs).
It seems like you've been receiving a lot of love from overseas since your album release. Why do you think you grab their attention?
Jun-Hyung: Because we are a rock band doing lives? People tend to get into more Asian pop music and the way we approach music with a certain sentiment of teams and doing band music may appeal to them. I heard our fans are pretty much the same age as us so despite all the different nationalities, we and our fans seem to share the common feeling of one generation.
Which country would you like to visit the most?
We’d love to visit all the countries if possible. Kicking off a world tour is our ultimate dream. But then we need a minimum 1,000 people in the audience per country - that’s what our manager said. We just wonder when that day will come. Until then we will just keep trying hard. Having seen lots of tweets from France, maybe France will be the first country to get 1,000 fans, haha!
Does your fan club already have a name? If not, what name would you like?
We haven’t made our fan club yet and haven’t thought of the name yet. Whatever it may be, we'll love a name made by fans. Recently we got a suggestion through a tweet, which is “Galaxy.” That’s a pretty good name I think. We are all good.
I heard you took part in KBS’ "Top Band." Why did you choose to participate?
We wanted to try our potential (as a band). Not only in "Top Band," but also we have been in lots of contests so far, to show our potential, to win and guarantee money to pay the rent (laughs). Strangely the more prizes we received in competitions, the more confidence we got. "Top Band" was one of those to us.
What do you think the show brought to you?
Lots of fans and massive anti fans (laughs). As more and more people got to recognize our potential, we gained a certain twisted image through TV programs in return. But if it is all the life and path we have to walk on some day (as said in Asian philosophy), I think we have accomplished so much and gotten energy to move on to the next step through "Top Band."
What are your plans for the future? Do you want to stay as an indie band or go major?
We want to be rock stars, but we don’t want to do music only for commercial success. The categories of indie and major music don’t apply to us. After debuting in the major scene, we won’t stop doing gigs in clubs. There's no planning for our full concert schedule yet. Doing a club gig at least once a month and meeting our fans in lots of live shows is what we are now planning to do.
Can you share any anecdotes with us?
Jun Hyung: We once attended a contest as a band, and our performance was as not good as we expected, so all the members were frustrated and scattered somewhere. But we won the grand prize. When AXIZ' name was called out, I was in a panic to find the members. We almost missed the encore performance.
Ji-Wan: I happened to get on the bike of a dispatch rider. On the day of the national college entrance exam, after taking the exam I had to go straight to the concert venue. As there was a huge traffic jam, I had no choice but getting on the bike to be on time. Our manager sent me a dispatch rider with his bike. Rushing like hell on a bike in such a traffic jam, I barely arrived just three minutes before the show. It was a frightening moment.
Do you have some concluding thoughts to say to our readers?
We are so glad and happy that people from countries we have never been to like us and our music. We can’t wait to see you guys and do a concert in France. Even in a cozy venue, we can share our music and energy with you, so please get 1,000 fans together. We appreciate your love and support.
KoME would like to thank Axiz for making this interview possible.